spec writing - is simple ever wrong ?

Subject: spec writing - is simple ever wrong ?
From: "Monique Semp" <monique -dot- semp -at- earthlink -dot- net>
To: "TechWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 30 Jul 2013 15:39:51 -0700

Hello, WR-L-ers,

Iâm editing a specification, and I was merrily redlining all sorts of convoluted wording to be simple and straight-forward. But then I thought, perhaps thereâs a reason that so many specs are so awkward to read. Maybe there is some spec writing requirement, beyond the usual SHOULD, MUST NOT, etc. definitions, that in effect requires indirectness? After all, why else would so many specs be so difficult to make out?

For example, why should a spec say âin the case ofâ instead of âifâ? Why should âmoreoverâ be used so much more often than âandâ, especially when both could be omitted altogether?

Any thoughts?

For reference:

* I did find the RFC Document Style Manual, http://web.archive.org/web/20090418061257/http://www.rfc-editor.org/rfc-style-guide/rfc-style-manual-08.txt, but it certainly doesnât say to be excessively wordy!

* Not really related, but interesting, is this thread about programming language specifications: http://programmers.stackexchange.com/questions/23542/how-do-i-go-about-writing-a-programming-language-specification. I havenât digested it fully yet, but it doesnât seem to be concerned with natural (vs. programming) language issues.

-Monique


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